The more I travel the more I feel like there is a no more worthy spiritual home than the Pacific Northwest. There is something seducing about the nature here. And one Tre Arrow proved this by relocating his passions here.
The environmental mecca stretches from northern California to British Columbia. Perhaps its most popular name is Cascadia and there are a number of movements to make these lands in whole or part a separate nation. As a sovereign land I imagine the Republic of Cascadia would become something like Canada, basically just another state in the American Empire. I just don't see the logic of isolation, even in an attempt to protect these sacred lands.
Preservation however is something me and Tre did understand. In July of 2000 I was temping in a bank's file room of epic proportions. I was the only male working with a brood of grandmas. We supported the hundreds of supersized women beyond our window that greased the legacy wheels of the grand bank that indirectly payed my rent. Not that I was unthankful, but a I did welcome the break from corporate tedium that Mr. Arrow provided just a few short blocks away.
I missed the start, but Tre told me he hadn't planned on free climbing the US Forest Service (USFS) regional headquarters beforehand. It was a spur of the moment thing. Something another attendant at the rally against the Eagle Creek timber sale attempted but failed, falling to injury.
When I joined the protest that Tre had revived, the injured man that had tried to follow Mr. Arrow was ruefully shaking his head and repeatedly explaining how he had failed. The man must have instinctively sensed the heroic lapels that had passed him by on their way up to Tre.
For some reason I remember nine and a half days, but in all the recent articles I've read elven days is repeated as the length of Tre Arrow's stay on a small ledge thirty feet or so above sidewalk. I won't go and measure the height or the length of the ledge because I am a lazy man.
During his ordeal on the ledge Tre was a constant pacifist force, as well as setting an ideal example of how one can live with one's natural environment in the face of great adversity. On one occasion I responded quiet negatively towards some drive by meatheads and he ordered me to be nice. He actually demanded enough respect from me, a complete stranger, that I obeyed.
The months flew by and I met him only slightly more often then I saw his name in print. Check the Official 2000 General Election Online Voters' Guide and you'll find Tree Arrow representing the Pacific Green party for the Representative in Congress, Third District position. If I did vote that year, I'm sure I voted for him.
He was always barefoot, from his free climb to the time in winter when we rode side by side during a critical mass. He honored me by remembering my face though he'd forgotten my name. But that is enough for me, he is the hero after all. By the way for the uninitiated critical mass is a bicycle movement that battles with cars and police for control of the streets at least once a month. If San Fransisco slid into the ocean, Portland would top the list for the new critical mass capital. Our Halloween ride is legend.
Not so long after this Tre was forcibly transformed by the Man, into what exactly—I'm still not sure. The Man, in the form of law enforcement and loggers, tired to kill him. The details and facts of this are available in better articles then this one. What is important to me is trying to understood what could potential change the Tre I knew into someone who could be capable of what he soon was accused of by the FBI.
During one of my biannual visits home my mother pointed out the article that first told me of the accusation. I cursed loud and violently. I knew I knew Tre and I thought I recognized one of the other names. Those two and two others were accused of eco-terrorism and were reportedly facing free life ending sentences.
In August of 2002, an indictment was announced against Tre Arrow. He joined the FBI's most wanted list and a bounty of $25,000 dollars was put on his head. A friend of mine actually asked if I knew where Tre was so he might team up with a bounty hunter friend of his and pursue who he saw as a worthless tree hugger. I tried to change his view but if any of you have Republican friends you know how stubborn they can be.
I felt enough rage about the accusation of eco-terrorism and what they faced if convicted to start me on a year long binge of activism and direct action. Finally with a broken arm from a bullying cop I started to calm down and turn more to indirect action. My mother, harsh memories still fresh from the sixties and seventies, helped convinced me that writing could accomplish much in safety. Besides, I'm no hero.
Just months ago Tre Arrow was captured in Canada. He was apparently caught shoplifting bolt cutters, not the kind of capture I would have guessed for such a major threat to the security of the United States. At least his hero status does not seem much deflated by it.
And today I heard from National Public Radio that "the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies that their is a potential for criminal activity this weekend by supporters of a convicted arsonist who was aligned with the Earth Liberation Front" (ELF). They went on to mistakenly name Tre Arrow by his birth name and seemed to lump him with the ELF guy.
Tying Tre to ELF is not just the purposeful mistake of NPR but also the FBI itself which has enjoyed calling the group the number one domestic threat to the United States. It seems that if enough fear can be built up we can even justify invading ourselves with a rule of law that doesn't bother with the pesky differences between activism and terrorism. And Tre Arrow is again almost the martyr he screamed down he was ready to be those years ago from that narrow narrow ledge.